In the heights:
In the heights: ticket price – £15. Seat view: restricted-ish. Anticipation level – high. It’s Lin Manuel-Miranda’s other hugely famous Broadway musical, which has been shaking up the scene, coming before Hamilton. The music is his signature mixture of Hip-Hop rhythm’s, rap and classic musical theatre. So, did it live up to my expectations?
It surpassed them.
It was a beautifully styled show, bright colours – lights and set which reflected a Latino community in the Washington heights conflicted with the issues of modern day America – namely poverty caused by gentrification. It really highlighted these issues and made them prominent, but the storyline that really got me going was that of Nina – a girl who must be a similar age to myself (19) who dropped out of college as she did not have the time to study due to having to work long hours to afford the books. Student jobs are something that most students I know have to adopt to afford university, particularly in London. Any free time given – may that be evenings and weekends are often taken up by working long and tiring hours in shops, bars and restaurants, paying well under London living wage. It can be an absolute struggle to have any time to study as well as work and adult too – cooking, shopping, cleaning (the house and yourself). This world of Nina’s I can understand, not wanting to ask for help or support and risking your education at that expense, but todays unaffordable education system cannot. Yes I am privileged – I have a student loan, but there are so many who still struggle more than I do. How can you be an independent and educated adult whilst still texting your mum for an extra £50? That’s 8 hours work. And it is an extra struggle to prioritise your own education over working an extra shift on Tuesday night until 2:30 AM – that shift could pay for train tickets for a weekend at home, 3 weeks food shopping, the book that’s on an extended loan in the library to be delivered from amazon. But by working that shift your gonna turn up tired to the Wednesday morning lecture. It’s hard. And because In The Heights showed this international struggle, I not only love the show, but respect it. And I shall be returning to see it, having worked an extra hour to buy the mug.
Now it’s been 2 days since I saw the show, and the soundtrack has been on repeat on my spotify. It’s one of the great things about Lin Manuel’s music, that the more you listen the more you learn. One of the most poignant lines that can be heard is from the finale –
“In five years when this whole city’s
rich folks and hipsters, who’s gonna
miss this raggedy little business”
which speaks a truth for many people around the world affected by gentrification. And in 3 lines it sums up the whole of the show – the themes, the issues, the time scale, place and shared emotions of every character in the cast. The times of desperation – selling family businesses, emigrating from the Dominican Republic in search of a better life and death of loved ones, there still remains a sense of strong community spirit in the traverse stage of the Kings Cross theatre. It really is a sign of a good show when you feel you are transported to the place that has arrived in the Kings Cross theatre less than 24 hours after we left Yorkshire in the Railway Children, in the same space. So did I like it? Yes I did.